You’d be hard-pressed to find an American city that rivals the cultural richness and deep-rooted history found within New Orleans. Indeed, it’s a destination worth traveling to all year-round—but the city is truly in its finest form during the annual Jazz & Heritage Festival. This year, musical acts ranging from Eric Clapton and Bruce Springsteen to Trey Songz and Arcade Fire will join in celebrating Louisiana as a mecca for music, art, food and more. Plan on heading down South for the festival? Here’s a guide to experiencing the city like a V.I.P.
The Grand Marshall VIP Pass offers exclusivity in the form of access: You’ll get front-and-center placement during performances and preferential treatment while moving between the festival’s three main stages Plus, you’ll avoid the inherently cramped general admission areas. $900 not including parking. Purchase tickets here.)
Located in New Orleans’ Central Business District and just a few blocks away from the buzzing French Quarter, the luxurious Windsor Court Hotel is a perfect respite from the chaos of the city. If you can snag a reservation, we recommend the two-bedroom Presidential Suite with private terraces that showcase New Orleans’ unique skyline. 300 Gravier St, New Orleans, LA
While you’re in town, brunch at Commander’s Palace in the Garden District is a must. James Beard award-winning chef Tory McPhail puts a modern spin on classic Creole with dishes like Cochon De Lait Eggs Benedict (barbequed pork shoulder over cheddar and bacon biscuits with poached eggs) and pecan-crusted gulf fish. Commander’s wait staff treats guests to the warmest southern hospitality in all of New Orleans—promising fine dining without the pretense. 1403 Washington Ave, New Orleans, LA
The best place to enjoy a French 75—one of New Orleans’ most essential cocktails—is at the historic (and appropriately named) French 75 bar in Arnaud’s Restaurant. While Arnaud’s is renown for its standout cuisine, the carefully crafted cocktails often steal the spotlight. 813 Bienville Ave, New Orleans, LA
Indulging in afternoon tea at Le Salon is a multi-sensory experience. There’s the chattering of local Southern bells, the savoriness of petite finger sandwiches and, of course, the arresting aroma of perfectly-brewed loose-leaf tea. Partake in the charming pastime on Thursday and Friday at 2 p.m. or Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Reservations available here. Located in the lobby of the Windsor Court Hotel. 300 Gravier St, New Orleans, LA
Famed New Orleans Chef Donald Links found a way to deliver traditional Cajun dishes in a decidedly modern setting—his Central Business District restaurant Cochon, is located in a renovated warehouse. Cochon, which means “pig” in French, offers a fittingly pork-heavy menu with items like smoked pork ribs, but dishes like fried alligator and wood-fired oysters are equally as impressive. 930 Tchoupitoulas Street, New Orleans, LA
The Jazz & Heritage Festival spans two weekends—from April 25 to May 4. Visit nojazzfest.com